Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ten Reasons I Love Buns

 No I’m not talking about those buns, although they are delicious.

And not the other type either, granted you can always trust someone who likes big buns because they cannot lie.

Today I write about Buns, my compadre in life, my partner in crime, my hubby, companion, significant other, the eggs to my bacon, the Batman to my Robin, the beans to my... (you get the idea.)

Nearly two decades ago the two of us boarded the train of matrimony and waved goodbye to single life. Over the years and miles I have come to realize that Buns has many things about him that have made that journey possible. Someone knew what they were doing when they got us together.

I cover just a few here.

1.       He won’t fight with me. Period. And there are times I want to, there have been moments I have gunned for conflict, pushed hard enough to drive any normal person past the point of reason and yet he will not engage. He knows my anger has a short lifespan and is patient enough to wait it out.

2.       He grows things. Where plants scream when they see me coming under his care they flourish and flower. 

3.       Little kids love him. When Buns walks into a room full of kids they flock to him. He is big and burley and intimidating to adults but those little ones see the kindness in his eyes and they cannot stay away.

4.       He fixes stuff even when he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Cars, dishwashers, science projects, toys, if it is broken he fixes it and if he doesn’t know how he finds out.

5.        He is a sucker for strays. Animals or people. If he finds anyone or anything lost or in trouble he picks them up and brings them home. Sometimes they end up staying for a long time.

6.       He is a magnificent dad. Tough when he needs to be which isn’t often and a trusted confidant the rest of the time. He is the first one to notice trouble on the horizon our children know without a doubt he has their back.

7.       He is hilarious. He swears that when he dies he wants the inscription on his headstone to read “I’ve had worse in my eye.” 

8.       He isn’t needy. Husbands of my friends can’t seem to survive ten seconds without their wives. Buns has no issue with that. If I need to be away for a day or two there are no worries. He can cook and clean, he can kiss boo boos, he can take them to the park and the zoo with no hyperventilation. 

9.       Buns is always himself. Rain or shine, church or ballgame he is always himself. There are no pretenses or putting on of air. What you see is what you get. 

10.   He never gives up on family. Ever. Even when they don’t deserve it, especially when they don’t deserve it. Family is first and nothing changes that.

President Gordon B. Hinkley quoted columnist Jenkin Lloyd Jones in a speech given at BYU. Said he,
“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . .

Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
As we approach another anniversary of the beginning of our journey together I’m thankful for all the things Buns is. The tracks up to this point have been varied. There has been heartache, headaches, and happiness.

In all of it I’m truly grateful that we are together and am glad we will ride this train for a long time more.



Friday, June 14, 2013

But If Not

Earlier this week I had a conversation with an old friend. He is very talented and through years of hard work has earned the accolades of his peers and the financial benefits of a very successful career. As a young man he served an honorable full time mission for the LDS church and graduated from BYU, but as his life progressed he started to stray from his beliefs. Now 10 years later he is living a lifestyle that is in nearly complete opposition to the precepts he used to know were true.

When I asked how he had gotten to this point he answered that he had tendencies towards certain types of behavior starting in high school and had been very unhappy about it. He thought that if he went on a mission and worked as hard as he could that God would remove his challenges. When that didn’t happen he became disillusioned and started to fall away from what he knew to be true. He felt it was too difficult to go on fighting against his “natural man” and simply gave in.  My heart breaks for him. He is an elect son of God who has missed the point of the Gospel and it is leading him down a path that will not take him where he wants to go.

At this point I’m sure you are wondering how in the world this sad story relates at all to Father’s Day? As I thought about my friend and the countless others who mistakenly believe that God removes all problems and temptations from those who keep the commandments there were certain things that my dad taught me, mostly by example, that kept coming to my mind.

Dad grew up on a small farm in rural Idaho. His family was poor but hard working. He was intensely shy and so being called to serve a mission in Detroit Michigan in the midst of the 1967 race riots was obviously a stretch for him.  Just as he was beginning to get comfortable being a missionary life changed forever. He and his companion were hit head on by a drunk driver. The crash killed dad’s companion and crushed him from the waist down. He spent 10 days in a coma and his parents were brought out to say their goodbyes. He was not supposed to live.

Astoundingly, he did wake up and was informed that there was no possibility he would ever walk again. He chose not to believe the doctors. After months in a body cast that reached from his armpits to his toes and scores of operations he was finally able to begin physical therapy. With the help of nurses and doctors he worked hard and suffered inhuman amounts of pain to get back on his feet. He was released from the hospital on the exact release date of his mission and he walked out of there.

Dad found that perseverance, prayer, humor and hard work can bring about miracles with the Lord’s help. He believed the words of President Hinkley who said "You have not failed until you quit trying." Even with the miracle that occurred he suffered immeasurably the rest of his life dealing with the after effects of such a devastating accident. The Lord allowed him to walk but did not remove the burden of pain and ill health.

“What does the Lord expect of us with respect to our challenges? He expects us to do all we can do. He does the rest. Nephi said, "For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. We must have the same faith as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. 
Our God will deliver us from ridicule and persecution, but if not. . . . Our God will deliver us from sickness and disease, but if not . . . . He will deliver us from loneliness, depression, or fear, but if not. . . . Our God will deliver us from threats, accusations, and insecurity, but if not. . . . He will deliver us from death or impairment of loved ones, but if not, . . . we will trust in the Lord.
Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not. . . . He will make sure that we are loved and recognized, but if not. . . . We will receive a perfect companion and righteous and obedient children, but if not, . . . we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and in His way, be delivered and receive all that He has.” 
Forty years later Dad suffered a debilitating stroke which paralyzed ½ of his body and blinded one of his eyes. Out of necessity he came to live in a care facility. Even though he was severely handicapped he spent his time there comforting the afflicted and visiting with the lonely. Many nights would find aides and nurses receiving counsel about life at his bedside. He did missionary work and brought several people back into activity. The conditions were humbling in every way but dad kept a remarkably upbeat attitude during his time there. He told me that Heavenly Father was giving him opportunities to serve every single day and that he was making a difference.

When Dad passed away I had the distinct impression that his spirit stood up out of his wheel chair, shook off the effects of a body that had been ravaged by 40 years of unspeakable pain, sprinted out the door, and then put on his missionary suit and tie and went to work preaching the Gospel. He was going to finish what he started in Detroit all those years ago. He had trusted the Lord and the Lord had kept His promise.
Now don’t get me wrong, dad was certainly not perfect. He had his faults, and challenges and he fell down a lot. He made mistakes in his life and acted badly at times. He sometimes did things that hurt those around him, but the thing about dad that taught me the most was that even when the Lord doesn't take our burdens from us, even when they stretch us and hurt us more than we think it is possible to bear, even when we choose wrongly and fall from grace all we have to do is exercise a particle of faith, repent, get back up, work hard, do what we know is right, try again and the Lord will keep his promises to us. He will take our challenges and temptations and mold us into a new being. He will make us like Him.

On this Father’s Day I am grateful for Fathers and what they teach us. I’m grateful for flawed men who fall down and continue to get back up and try again. For dad’s who persevere, for dad’s that stalwartly hold to the truths of the Gospel, for dad’s who say “but if not… I will trust in the Lord.”
"God bless you, dear fathers. May He bless you with wisdom and judgment, with understanding, with self-discipline and self-control, with faith and kindness and love. And may He bless the sons and daughters who have come into your homes, that yours may be a fortifying, strengthening, guiding hand as they walk the treacherous path of life. As the years pass—and they will pass ever so quickly—may you know that "peace... which passeth all understanding" (Philip. 4:7) as you look upon your sons and daughters, who likewise have known that sacred and wonderful peace." (Gordon B. Hinkley)

Happy Father’s Day!


Friday, June 7, 2013

For the Boys

I happen to be mother of three handsome and incredible sons, two of whom are now in that enchanted and sweaty age range of being able to date. (Mormon youth are asked not to date until they are 16 years old and this is the rule we have in our family.) As much as this milestone in their young lives lends itself to a serious case of middle-aged hyperventilating on my part, I know that my kids will navigate this time brilliantly.

Still, students of life can avoid many pitfalls by learning from the awkward steps of their elders. With that in mind may I bring a few items of note which may assist the bright youth of today in their dating pursuits.

This week I focus on young men.

Dates do not need to be elaborate or expensive to impress a girl. In fact when you go over the top it sends the message that this is a serious proposition. Case in point- while I was at BYUI living in a large off-campus apartment complex full to the brim with LDS girls one of my next door neighbors was asked to a school dance. The boy who did this wanted to make an impact so while she was at class he brought in 50 pounds of Hershey kisses and covered her bedroom floor ankle deep in chocolate. He then left a cutesy note that said “now that I kiss the floor you walk on, will you go to the dance with me.”  Aside from the diabetic coma enjoyed by everyone within a six-mile radius, the money and effort he put in to that endeavor did not pan out in the long run. She accepted but that was their only date. She liked him but the pressure she felt from that over the top effort scared her off.  

Also, first dates are not the time to take a girl to serious family events. A friend of mine once accepted an invitation to the movies and was told “we just need to stop at a family gathering for a minute” before they went to the theater.  That event turned out to be his grandmother’s funeral. Amazingly, she declined any 
further dates with this guy.

The lesson here is that most times the best dates are simple and inexpensive. Take a walk, fly a kite, go to the dollar movie. Casual environments allow you to get to know your date without anyone thinking that it is more than just a fun experience. Later in life, when you find someone really awesome you think you want to spend the rest of forever with, you can break out the skywriters and mariachi bands.

The right questions are good, the wrong ones will deep six your date. Asking your date personal questions about her interests and background are a great way to get to know someone. Girls love to talk and most of all about themselves. Doing this will make her feel important and that you are truly interested in her as a person. Questions to avoid would be things like "If there was a nuclear war that destroyed most of humanity, leaving only 5 men in existence for you to marry, would I be one of them?" or “What temple would you like to get married in?” If you whip those out on a first date don’t be surprised when she runs screaming into the sunset without you.

Do not treat the girl you are out with like she is one of “the guys”. Boys bond by insulting each other and using physical horseplay. Let me tell you right now that girls take what you say seriously, so do not call her “chubster” or “psycho” or any other demeaning nickname and insult her thinking it is funny. She may laugh, but deep down you are hurting her feelings. This will result in her texting every one of her 900 friends and telling them what a jerk you are thus reducing the pool of those willing to go out with you in the future. Remember who she is as a daughter of God and treat her with respect.  

Also, comparing arm hair amount, neck size, and athletic prowess should be avoided. It’s not her fault that you have the neck of a chicken or that you can destroy her in a weight lifting competition. These kinds of things will not make the kind of impression you are hoping for.

Let her see the real you. You are a fabulous kid with much to offer so there is no need to show her how you can pop your pecs or brag about the time you “totally saved a guy’s life” by some superhuman feat, and if you work at McDonald’s don’t tell her you are a Fast Food Engineer. Other titles to avoid are Pork Rind Expert and Aspiring Beta Tester. She will see right through that and know it means you are a chronic basement dwelling Cheeto eating gamer. Which leads to my next point.

Don’t be a chronic basement dwelling Cheeto eating gamer! There is a whole beautiful world outside of the internet and your game console. Read, think, look at art, go camping, play a sport, learn to work with your hands, have some interests outside of a dark stinky room full of boys staring at a TV nineteen hours a day. No girl in her right mind wants to date someone whose sole love in life is gaming. She also does not want to hear about how epic it was when you beat level 42 in record time so get outside, it won’t hurt I promise.

Keep an open mind. The girls you ask out don’t always need to be the Homecoming Queen or in the Peanut Festival Court. There are loads of intelligent, fun, girls out there who lovely both inside and out. Learn to recognize that beauty comes in many different forms and not just the kind that is on the cover of magazines. When you do this you will gain the benefit of meeting a lot of really great young women.

Stay Safe. This is advice that pertains to both boys and girls. Always let a friend or parent know where you will be and what time you will be home. Keep a phone with you and stay in public places. If something doesn’t seem right don’t be afraid to end the evening politely.

Also, there are a lot of girls out there who think that a date must end in a physical way. Date girls who have high standards and make sure that when you ask someone out they know that you are going to stay morally chaste and expect the same from them. Boys can have a massive influence on the girls around them by quietly and courageously standing for truth and righteousness. Give sincere complements when they dress modestly and let people know that you find honest, virtuous girls as the most attractive in the world. They will raise their standards when they see you lead out.

In the end these are going to be some of the most exciting times of your life. Appreciate it and try not to 
stress. Ask for dates and if you are turned down let it go and move on. There are girls out there just waiting to get to know someone as remarkable as you. And when you are accepted let them see the real you, stay safe, have fun, treat them with respect, and most importantly act so that you may keep the companionship of the Spirit. Doing this stuff and listening to your parents will help make it all a life learning and awesome experience.

Happy Dating!


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